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1896908_10201371839166046_807820538_n.jpgAt the beginning of this year, along with two state bodies dealing with food quality and security, State Food Security Service has been created in our Republic, which operates under the NKR Ministry of Agriculture. Following is an interview with Chief Service Levon SARGSIAN.

-         As the service has been established recently, let’s speak about its functions and basic tasks.

-         The service has operated since this February. This is a state body operating in the sphere of agricultural management, the functions of which are endorsed by the service charter and are aimed at controlling the entire way of goods, from producer to consumer. Among the main tasks is to identify the products dangerous for consumers, to control the production of food products at all stages of the technological chains. The service assesses the products’ security and compliance, controls the areas of veterinary and plant sanitation. All the works are based on the following principles: control of food products and materials in contact with food products and food additives, raw materials of animal origin, feed, feed mixtures and additives, plants, compliance of the requirements set by the regulations for plant production, control over the issue of documents confirming the veterinary, laboratory food research, their account and usage. Our task is also to provide the public with accurate and reliable information about the activities of the food security system, to ensure the use of the best global practices, scientific achievements and new technologies, to strengthen the material-technical basis.

-         What kinds of monitoring and checkup have you already conducted? What kinds of violation are the most frequent?

-         As the service structure has formed quite recently and the legislative and legal framework is still on the stage of formation, the practical work started in February. Checkups were conducted in large supermarkets of the capital and other food stores. At the first stage of monitoring, the inspectors and experts conducted some explanatory works. Then, according to the approved plan, the inspectors checked the implementation of the instructions on removing the inconsistencies. In some shops, they discovered cases of inconsistency of food products and took corresponding measures. The inspectors conducted food safety checkups not only in the capital, but also in the villages, where they also registered cases of expired goods: they were removed from sale and destroyed with the consent of the shops owners. We are also focused on vehicles delivering bread to shops. We conduct explanatory works with butchers so that they bring their activities in compliance with the required standards.

-         How do you organize the raids? Are business entities warned in advance?

-         The raids are organized by corresponding inspectors of the service - in accordance with the tasks set for the inspection. The checkups are conducted in the spheres where the entities must perform the works, for which they have certificates or permits for production or sale. The inspections revealed shortcomings in both the production and sale. They were given a deadline for removing the errors and defects. During the further planned inspections, in accordance with the list of economic entities, they will be warned in advance.

-         It has been repeatedly stated that there is no up-to-date laboratory in the Republic for the examination of food products and their deep research. What is the situation today?

-         Generally, consumers’ complaints for a particular product should be followed by the examination in the laboratory. As is known, recently, a new veterinary laboratory has been created under the Ministry of Agriculture - about 50 million AMD were spent for its equipment for the examination of food products. We also plan to conduct laboratory studies of fruits and vegetables grown in greenhouses and sold at agricultural markets. The people should have a clear idea of ​​what foods they consume.

-         One of the goals of the service is also to implement, jointly with consumers, the control at the food products market, as well as to set clear and reasonable rules for importers and producers. I think that only via a consistent and well-coordinated job we can overcome the obstacles and, as in many civilized countries, to achieve the culture of production and sales of high-quality and safe products.

-         From the security viewpoint, many consumers consider the local foods more reliable. Is it really so?

-                                                                  Any product, regardless of its place of production, if necessary, will undergo corresponding examination in the abovementioned laboratory. Our goal is to make the food products sold in our country safe, regardless of whether they are imported from outside or produced in the NKR. We must consistently continue the started positive process and promote the complete disappearance of substandard and harmful food products from our markets. Taking this opportunity, I’d like to urge all the consumers to pay attention to the date of expire and the business entities - to withdraw the overdue products from sale.

-                                                                  Does the department have corresponding specialists? Who are you cooperating with?

-                                                                  The Food Security Service is actively cooperating with the similar service of the RA Ministry of Agriculture. Joint meetings and conferences are periodically organized. An arrangement on mutual visits and cooperation in the sphere of food security has been achieved. Our colleagues from Armenia have expressed their readiness to cooperate and to render both consultative and practical assistance. Our service is ready to work with each consumer.